How do you handle a habitual liar?
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  1. #1
    Registered User MomToTwoBoys's Avatar
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    Default How do you handle a habitual liar?

    DS8 is a habitual liar.

    Now let me start off by saying that I do not throw that term around lightly. It's taken me a long time to consider him so and after all of the incidents, I think it's something we need to face.

    A lot of the incidents that he has put himself in have been surrounding things like the computer, the video game systems, the television, etc. We have gone as far as removing these items from his daily life minus the television because it hasn't come to taking that away from him just yet.

    The last and final incident happened yesterday:

    I go downstairs to help set up the XBox 360 and I find not one, but two scratches on the flatscreen television. I ask both of the boys what happened and after a resounding 'I don't know' from DS13 (in which he looked me square in the eye and didn't try to look away), I kept pressing the question to DS8. After the fifth time of him saying 'I don't know', he changed his tune to 'I forget how it happened'. I press further and he finally says 'I did it with the Wii Remote during Netflix' and I instantly grounded him from the Wii. He's been without it ever since.

    The computer was taken away from him after the final straw being that he set up a Facebook account and lied about it. Now, we have a very flexible set of rules as far as computer usage but when someone else has rules about things like YouTube, Facebook, etc then we are more strict. DH found out he had set up a Facebook account about three days ago or so when he was browsing it on his mobile and we pressed DS8 about it then. Even after telling him not to lie and that by lying, he's making it worse (which we have always told him every single time he's been busted for lying about things right to our face), he continued to lie. He told us that he didn't know his password and then when we asked to see the email address that he set it up with, he tried to tell us he forgot that too (which the email address is what he uses at school weekly). Finally, he gives us the password for his Facebook account and we find out that he set up the account April 2011... almost a year ago!

    *sigh*

    So after busting him for tearing keys off of the laptop and flushing them down the toilet (in which he lied about that too), trying to look at naked girls, signing up on Skype and talking to a bunch of 12 and 13 year olds he knew from Minecraft, cussing at someone on an online video game and other countless things that got him in trouble, we finally pulled the plug on any computer use at home for him for the next six months. I'm thinking that even after that, we might not give him a computer to use at all ever again.

    In all honesty, I am at the end of my rope with this lying business. It hasn't just been about the computer or the television, it has also been about a lot of things that he knows full well will get him into trouble more if he isn't honest up front about it. The punishment is always lighter if he confesses and we have told him this before, but he's always pushing the buttons to make it worse.

    I asked my mother about it and my sister and father were both habitual liars, but she had no advice about it because my sister still does it and my father is dead and buried. So I am coming to the Village for some advice.

    What is there to do about this??

  2. #2
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    no advice just hugs.. individual and family therapy..u don't want it to get worse...hugs honey

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    Registered User Neeley's Avatar
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    DS went through a phase where he was not very honest. He would tell stories about anything, small or big. The way he acted sounds similar to what you have described. I was going nuts! In all honesty we did not do anything spectacular or extreme. We just punished him when he was caught and stayed consistent with the punishment. One thing we always told the kids was even if you screw up, be honest about it. Your punishment will be much worse if you tell a lie. With that, we made sure if he came clean up front, with no lies, the punishment was not as severe. Still appropriate, just not as severe.

    Today, we really do not have a problem with him lying anymore and have not in the past few years. I think a combination of consistency and him maturing stopped the problem. Of course, a little extra leverage for us is now that he is 16 and driving, he knows that his driving and going out privileges will be taken away in a snap if he lies.

    It is not going to get better overnight and may get worse before it gets better. But, hopefully it will start to turn around soon. Deep breaths & take it day by day.

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    Registered User Libby's Avatar
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    Could it be that he's acting out b/c he's not getting enough attention? Is he jealous of his older brother who gets to do things he doesn't simply b/c he's older etc?

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    Registered User melodys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MomToTwoBoys View Post

    I go downstairs to help set up the XBox 360 and I find not one, but two scratches on the flatscreen television. I ask both of the boys what happened and after a resounding 'I don't know' from DS13 (in which he looked me square in the eye and didn't try to look away), I kept pressing the question to DS8. After the fifth time of him saying 'I don't know', he changed his tune to 'I forget how it happened'. I press further and he finally says 'I did it with the Wii Remote during Netflix' and I instantly grounded him from the Wii. He's been without it ever since.
    Based on this one instance only, the sequence of events led up to him being punished after he told the truth. I was inadvertently doing this with my son too until I realized that my own actions were making lying the better option.

    Things started to get better when I rewarded truth and punished lies when I discovered them by means other than my son fessing up. In a situation like the one you described when the truth comes out I let him know that I am thankful that he told me the truth. I also let him have a say in what the consequences would be for his actions. Often I took the punishment that he thought was fitting and lighted it a bit. Over time, he saw that my parenting was fair and the lying decreased.

  7. #6
    Registered User MomToTwoBoys's Avatar
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    Oh he gets plenty of attention. I don't have as many issues with having to divert my attention to my oldest anymore and we actually got to spend some time together playing games today. He really, really seemed to have a good day today and we got to talk a whole lot.

    He only gets punished worse if the lying continues. He knows that if he tells the truth at the start, the punishment will not be as severe. And even after things like this happen, we always sit down with him and talk for about an hour afterwards or even more. We did this when he had a bullying issue at school and we do this after every time he gets into trouble over something. Heck, I even had a discussion with him not ten minutes before the discovery of the scratches on the television about telling the truth and following the rules.

    We always sit down with him every night before he goes to sleep and we have discussions about things. He always tells me that he knows and understands, but goes and does things like this.

    *sigh* I'm really hoping that it is a phase and he'll grow through it, but it has me concerned for down the road. We try to be as thorough with following the same consistency in terms of punishment and rewards but there are always the times when the exception overrides the norm.

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    Registered User khaski's Avatar
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    hhhhmmm...DS14 went through a stage like this. We just tried to emphasize that telling the truth, the first time asked, would result in less punishment then lying or having me find out some other way- seemed to help a bit.

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    Registered User Rhiamon's Avatar
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    With DD I always tell her you can tell me anything and I will do my best not to get upset about it. So when I know she is lying I say this calm will looking at her and down on her level. I also tell her that I can't stand lying and that you will get in more trouble for lying then telling me the truth.

    It sounds like you pretty much do this though. It was a lot of repeating of it. I say it all the time you can always tell me anything.

    Hugs it's hard if it is getting serious though and worse I would call his Doctor and see if he has some advice.

  10. #9
    Registered User imagine's Avatar
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    One has to find the payoff/benefit the liar is getting from lying. This could be a true benefit or a perceived benefit. It might be something the liar sees as a benefit and no one else would. It could even be something typically seen as a punishment by others but has a payoff/benefit in the liar's eyes.

    I hesitate to give examples because then people tend to look at the examples instead of looking at the entire situation.

    One has to dissect the situations, find the payoff, and then change that variable. If it becomes clear that was the variable that needed changing, then one knows how to fix the problem. If it becomes clear that the change in variable is not the one, then you repeat the process of discovery again.

    Good Luck.

  11. #10
    Registered User Greebo's Avatar
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    My harsh but direct, to the point, "Fix it in a way he'll never forget" suggestion - take it for what it's worth:

    If you're familiar with the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf", there's a lesson in there for you.

    DS needs to understand that by lying, he's destroying your trust in him.

    You can demonstrate to him the real future consequences of his actions by deliberately ceasing to believe *anything* he tells you. It doesn't matter how innocuous the information is, express doubt in it. Ask him why you should believe him. Make him prove every single thing to you, and treat him with zero trust at all.

    Children, in my experience, get VERY DEEPLY UPSET when they're doubted and they're telling the truth - far more than when they're lying and you don't believe them (which they can certainly act about well).

    Key point here - DON'T LIE TO HIM - just don't trust him. If he accuses you of favoritism to DS13 over him, point out that while DS13 has lied before, it hasn't been nearly to the point that DS8 has, so you're automatically INCLINED to trust 13 over 8, and as such 13 won't have to work as hard to prove his claims as 8 will.

    If you demonstrate to him that his lying to you about *anything* means you consider him able to lie to you about *everything*, and he feels just how badly that loss of trust feels, you should start to see a change in behavior that comes not from a fear of getting caught for what he did wrong, but because he WANTS to be trusted and trustworthy.

  12. #11
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    First of all, if the child is only eight , he hasn't fully developed a conscience. That starts truly happening around ten years old. Children can be taught to lie with a parent's reaction to the lying and over punishing. (6 months?) My dad wasn't even this strict, and he had a reputation for it. Are you showing resentment with each episode or dealing with it separately. Histrionic, and crazy reactions to infractions of the rule will cause him to lie even further. Catch him doing things right and praise him. If you consistently stay angry, self esteem issues will eventually be involved. Just set limits and outline consequences and enforce, but not "severely". He apparently is feeling the need to connect to someone with the facebook account. Let that person be you. Get him to open up at other times about anything bothering him or about things that he feels compelled to do. By the way, is this a stepchild? You don't talk about him like he is yours.

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    I have 4 children and the youngest is currently 8. I do think that kids go through a "lying phase" where they are learning limits, etc at about 6-9 or so. He might be there now. So a certain amount of fibbing is pretty normal I think. What concerns me, however, is that some of the activities he is lying about are pretty mature. Netflix, Facebook, Xbox, internet, and even TV should all be pretty limited still at age 8. I don't think most 8 year olds have the capacity to limit themselves in these areas- they are interesting. I've seen teens that have real addictions to these so I think it is ultra important to deal with this NOW. It should be fairly simple to take away the computer at that age. Set some limits. You can use the computer for an hour on the weekend, but no facebook until you are 13 because that is the age limit required to create a FB account (I know that isn't always realistic, my kids had accounts at age 11, but they weren't very into it and still are not). I think that the amount of socializing an 8 year old does online or via xbox should be pretty minimal if any. Probably shouldn't be playing minecraft yet. I'd set limits for x-box and gaming at a certain amount of time and not against any real life people. It just isn't safe for a young child- and an 8 year old is a young child. His interactions should still be with real people in face to face situations. So while you are taking away some things and setting some limits give him some new things to replace them with. Set up some play dates with real kids. Enroll him in a sports team or activity. Get him busy doing other things. Video games are a real part of today's society- in the background of my house right now my teen is playing x-box in our basement online with friends. But he is 17 and has soccer practice later tonight. It's a matter of balance. Maybe that will help get it under control and put the lying to an end.

  14. #13
    Registered User monkeywrangler71's Avatar
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    Is he only lying to try to avoid trouble? I think thats a natural inclination, especially when punishments are harsh. I've lived with pathological liars and they lie about everything, regardless of whether or not it would have gotten them into trouble. They just lie for no reason other than sheer enjoyment of lying. Sounds to me that your son is only lying as a defense mechanism.

    He definitely has some behaviours that need correcting, but you might want to be less punitive about it. Definitely control the computer/video game access, but don't present it as punishment. And look for something to fill the void left by the computer, maybe sports, he sounds like a pretty energetic kid.

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    Registered User MomToTwoBoys's Avatar
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    I understand that kids develop a conscience at ten but he's a very bright boy. He knows that rules are there to be followed and breaking them results in punishment that can be avoided if he follows them. We explain the reasons why to him and if he has the cognitive reasoning to agree verbally to following them, that's what I expect out of it. I don't expect any more out of him than my mother did with me when I was a child. I wasn't a habitual liar, either, and I respected the rules set forth by both sets of parents (they divorced when I was younger).

    DS8 is my child and I do not have any stepchildren.

    If this is a phase, then good. I'm just concerned about the phase becoming a life-long phase instead of just a passing fancy.

    He doesn't play Minecraft anymore and I don't have XBox Live in the house, even for the adults. He does a lot of socializing in person (not nearly as much as I did as a child because I didn't have a PC in the home).

    He's out of the house at least four times a week to hang out with his friends from school and they come here sometimes as well.

    I've tried the 'why should I believe you?' route with him and it hasn't worked. I've taken away things from him and replaced them with others and it's improved slightly until the items are reintroduced. We have time limits in place but when I'm not awake, he can easily bypass those... which is why I debated not even giving back the PC when the grounding ends.

    He's a significantly different child when he's not around anything electronic in nature. Just in the last two days alone, he's been more talkative to us and a lot easier to deal with. But the problem continues to be whenever he gets around anything with a plug and a controller, he's not easy to deal with at all.

    I don't consistently stay angry and I do praise him when he does things well. We always have positive reinforcements but he's to where he expects to get something good every single time and only does certain things when he knows he's going to get something good out of it. I'm not sure I like how that goes because my mother taught me that you should do good things, regardless of whether you're going to get a physical reward or not.

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    Registered User bookwormpeg's Avatar
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    My kids are grown so I don't have any advice just hugs....hope things work out....

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